Saturday, June 26, 2010

Sleep, Baby, Sleep

The hardest issue that we've been having with Little Bear is sleep.  Over the past month we've gone from no problems, to some problems, to "oh my goodness what are we going to do?" 

Issue #1  Going to sleep -- Its no surprise that going to sleep is really hard for some one whose whole life has been turned inside out, but Little Bear has had a very hard time falling asleep.  Why?  Well since he can't tell me, I'll make several guesses.  Any one of these or a combination of all of them may be the case.
a. jet lag
b. fear- He like this new life and is scared that it might not be there in the morning.
c.  He is loathe to give up all that fun attention from his new mama and papa

Issue #2  Staying asleep--  Little Bear is waking up several times a night.  Then (see issue #1) it is hard to go to sleep.  Why?
a.  fear-  He wakes up and doesn't really know where he is.  On second thought, I don't buy that one for a minute.  He always wakes up calling for "Mama!" 
b.  bad dreams
c. fear- where are mama and papa?

We've tried everything in the past month
1. Co-sleeping-  I know it great for some people, but for us it was no one's sleeping.  The boy tosses, turned, kicks and thrashes.  Charlie also gets up pretty early and we don't want to wake Little Bear up too soon.  We also like to have some time with no kids.
2.  Close sleeping-- We moved Little Bear's bed into our room.  Same problem as above, minus the kicking
3. Staying close by until he fell asleep.  This was taking hours.  He was really enjoying the interaction with us.  It lead us to think that we had to:
4.  Put him in a crib and let him cry. This was ok, but not great.  Then he threw himself out of the crib and hurt himself.  So we:
5.  Put him in his room with a baby gate on the door.  At least this way if he fell it was only from a toddler bed.  This too caused much distress and resulted in Little Bear crying longer than we felt was acceptable.
(Note:  I am absolutely fine with a reasonable amount of crying.  With all of our other children we let them cry for a while.)

In desperation I called Dr. Ray, a radio host I love ( for suggestions.  This in combination with the book Health Sleep Habits, Happy Child  helped me figure out something would work for us. The plan has three parts.  A. Get him to stay in bed.  We either returned him to bed if we heard him up or blocked his way our of bed.  I went so far as to turn myself into another rail of his toddler bed and block his way so he couldn't get out of bed.  The first few times we probably had to put him back to bed well over 50 times.  B. Give Little Bear no attention or interaction at all.  I wouldn't speak to him, not even to tell him to go to sleep, or look at him.  In fact, I even kept my eyes closed some of the time.  C. Let him know I am close by.  I lay in the hall until he is asleep, buy I lay on a futon mattress (I am too old to lay on a hardwood floor.) in such a way that he can only see my feet.  That way I can't interact, but he knows that I am near.  Thing are working.  The past two days Bear has laid down and gone to sleep in about 30 minutes.  If you compare this to the 2 hours it was taking two weeks ago you can see what a huge accomplishment this is for him.

Staying asleep has been a whole different issue.  We tried a different approach for that.  We moved the older boys out of the room last weekend and Charlie or I slept in the room with Little  Bear.  We were able to move the boys back in a few nights later and I slept on the futon mattress in the hall.  The last few night Little Bear has only been waking up one a night, so I have been sleeping in my bed and going down on an as needed basis.  Of course, I keep falling asleep outside on the futon, but I think in a few weeks Little Bear will be sleeping through the night.

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